Colombian ex guerrilla leader arrested on prison release

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BOGOTA, May 18, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – A former left-wing guerrilla leader wanted
by the United States for drug-trafficking was arrested on his release from
prison in Colombia on Friday, his political party said.

Jesus Santrich, a blind former leader of the FARC rebels, was liberated
following an order by the special peace court tasked with judging crimes
committed during Colombia’s half century of armed conflict.

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) ordered the 52-year-old’s
liberation to comply with the “non-extradition guarantee” that formed part of
the historic 2016 peace accord that brought an end to FARC’s 50-year
insurrection, converting the former rebels into a communist political party.

“Santrich has just been recaptured at the door” of the prison he was
released from, the FARC political party said on its Twitter account.

He left La Picota prison in the south of Bogota in a wheelchair, only to be
immediately detained by public prosecutors before being taken away in a
police helicopter to an unknown destination.

In a statement, the public prosecutor’s office said it “acted on” an arrest
warrant related to the drug-trafficking investigation.

Santrich, whose real name is Seuxis Paucias Hernandez, is suspected of
participating in the trafficking of 10 tons of cocaine to the US between June
2017 and April 2018, crucially after the peace accord was signed in December
2016.

The agreement stipulated that former guerrillas who commit crimes after the
pact was signed would be tried in a normal court and would lose the benefits
afforded by the accord, such as a ban on extradition.

Washington, through its embassy in Bogota, had strongly opposed Santrich’s
liberation and demanded an “urgent appeal” of the release order.

FARC, the Spanish acronym for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia,
which has subsequently become the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force
political party, has denounced the accusations against Santrich as a
“judicial set-up.”

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